Why Democracies Fail: A Critical Evaluation of the Causes for Modern Dictatorship


The technical reasons why Professor Stamps's study is welcome are obvious. As the literature on the origin of dictatorships is both extensive and diffuse, his presentation of the various types of explanation advanced should be as much of a help to the general reader as it will be to the student of the subject. Both will be grateful for a degree of clarity and lucidity which is rarely reached in professional writing.

Considerations of principle constitute, however, an even stronger reason why this study is timely. Social scientists in general, and political scientists in particular, face the difficult task of holding their own in the face of the even more rapid advances made by the natural sciences, and of the destructive purposes which some of these advances have been made to serve in a politically disorganized world. For reasons frequently stated the task of the social scientist is, of course, harder than that of the natural scientist. A contributing factor is, however, frequently overlooked. Natural scientists constitute a true scientific community; they work in the closest possible contact, and the conclusions of one are constantly checked by others. Where errors creep in, they are not likely to persist. Political scientists, on the other hand, tend to work in isolation; they reach their conclusions independently of one another, and their writings, at times, assume the form of monologues in which everyone sets forth his own views, without much concern for what has been done by others. Even if this is done brilliantly it will not lead to that systematic sifting of the evidence without which generally accepted results cannot be secured. Besides, the striving for originality, so . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Notre Dame, IN
Publication year:
  • 1957


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